Director: Eran Creevy
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Marwan Kenzari, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Christian Rubeck
Runtime: 1 hr 39 minutes
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: The Walt Disney Company
Opening Day: 23 February 2017
Synopsis: CASEY, a young American backpacker in Germany has fallen in love with JULIETTE, a fellow American travelling through Europe. When she is diagnosed with a fatal disease, Casey decides to steal from German gangster HAGEN in order to pay for the medical treatment, which could save Juliette's life. Casey's heist, however, doesn't go to plan and Hagen catches him. Against all odds he manages to escape Hagen's men, steal one of Hagen's cars, and flee onto the autobahn. Pursued across Germany, he races to save his own life and get to Juliette before Hagen's men get to her first.
Amidst its opening images of a car spinning slo-mo in mid-air, Nicholas Hoult’s small-time crook Casey Stein speaks of how love isn’t quite so crazy a reason to do reckless things in life, especially since it is the only thing keeping him alive right then.
Frankly, we’re not quite convinced.
Why should we, considering that Casey’s romance with fellow American Juliette (Felicity Jones) is, within 20 minutes, barely established – notwithstanding that he is apparently so lovestruck after meeting her at a rave that he immediately quits working for the drug dealer Geran (a supremely over-the-top Ben Kingsley) and moves in together after just three months of courtship?
Oh yes, as far as exploring ‘how far would you go for the one you love’ is concerned, neither Casey and Juliette individually nor their mutual relationship is defined compellingly enough for us to buy into it as the motivation for him going off the road – and we mean that both figuratively and literally.
Instead, as its title suggests, ‘Collide’ is really much more motivated by the sight and sound of automobiles racing each other down Germany’s famed Autobahn (which incidentally was its working title). That highway with no speed limit forms the backdrop for the film’s centerpiece, involving a regular sedan, several SUVs and subsequently a Ferrari in high-speed chases, shootouts and backflips. To its credit, the action never strains credibility even in its utter eagerness to put pedal to the metal, and indeed the same can be said of the film as a whole.
Like ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ which he also wrote, F. Scott Franzier and his co-writer cum director Evan Creevy has a singular unwavering intent on keeping up a blistering pace throughout the course of their movie, which not only guides how quickly Casey switches from one vehicle to the next but also how cursorily the ‘non-moving’ parts are treated.
Not surprisingly, the not-quite-original plot which sees Casey approaching Geran for one last job in order to find the money for an immediate kidney transplant which Juliette requires and therefore places Casey squarely in the crosshairs of the erudite but ruthless drug kingpin Hagen Kahl (Anthony Hopkins) is simply filler between the non-stop action sequences.
That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself to be sure, but it also demands that its audience not have any expectation of it being more than a B-movie – or for that matter, for it to try to find any poignance in its purely mechanical setup of one guy supposedly risking his life to save the girl that he loves. Once that is clear, it is much easier to accept – and even enjoy – this meat-and-potatoes offering of reasonably well-shot action sequences in and around the somewhat lesser known German state of Cologne.
In the same vein, it is somewhat pointless to talk about the performances, given how they are clearly not the focus of the movie at all; notwithstanding, Hoult and Jones do invest sufficiently in their respective roles for us not to doubt the raison d'être of the premise in the first place, while veterans Kingsley and Hopkins in grossly underutilized supporting roles give their best in scenery chewing villainous turns.
There is no illusion on any of their parts just what they have signed up for here, and despite trying to sell this as a love-driven action thriller, there is hardly any doubt from the get-go that all it is concerned with is being action-packed and thrilling from minute-to-minute.
On that level alone, it is modestly entertaining, so as long as you’re here to see automobiles ‘Collide’ and nothing more, we dare say that you’ll not walk away disappointed.
(Don't expect any more than cars 'Collide'-ing and you'll find this blisteringly paced B-action movie moderately entertaining)
Review by Gabriel Chong